Asian-Brined Pork Roast

Asian-Brined Pork Roast is a new favorite of Ample Bites. The Asian flavors and the combination of the citric acid from the orange and the ginger, mirin and sesame oil give the pork an amazingly good taste. This is a dish worth trying and continuing to perfect. Next time I think I will grill the pork instead of roasting it to get a bit more of a char on the meat.


Asian-Brined Pork Loin
(Adapted from recipe courtesy of Food & Wine, January 2013)

Makes 8 to 10 servings

1 ½ cups mirin
1 ½ cups low-sodium soy sauce
4 ounces, fresh ginger, thinly sliced
10 small dried red chiles
1 orange, thinly sliced
2 Tbsp toasted sesame oil
8 cups cold water
1 6-pound, bone-in pork loin roast
1 Tbsp vegetable oil

In a large pot, combine the mirin, soy sauce, ginger, chiles, orange slices, sesame oil and water. Add the pork roast, cover and refrigerate overnight.

Preheat the oven to 350F. Drain the pork and let it come to room temperature. Pat dry. In a medium, flame proof roasting pan, heat the oil. Add the roast and cook over moderate heat, turning occasionally, until browned on all sides, about 10 minutes. Transfer the roast to the oven, meaty side up, and roast for about 1 hour, or until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the roast registers 135F. Cover the roast very loosely with foil and let rest for 15 minutes.

To serve, slice the roast thinly.

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Greek Chicken with Spinach and Feta

Ample Bites was looking for a light chicken dish to serve in the middle of the high-calorie Holiday Season. My refrigerator contained chicken breasts, feta cheese, greek olives, and spinach. The pantry and spice drawer were populated with a variety of spices from which to create just about any dish. This combination of ingredients inspired me to create Greek Chicken with Spinach and Feta, light dinner fare that was a perfect for solution for the problem at hand. The recipe follows:


Greek Chicken with Spinach and Feta
(Mark Kelly, December 2012)

Makes 6 servings

6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
7 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, divided, plus extra for drizzling
3 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbsp dried oregano
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound fresh baby spinach
8 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
6 ounces greek olives, coarsely chopped

In a large non-reactive bowl prepare the marinade by whisking together 6 tablespoons oil, lemon juice, 2 pinches of salt, oregano and 1 tablespoon pepper. Toss the chicken breasts in the marinade, cover and refrigerate for up to 4 hours. Bring the chicken to room temperature and shake off excess marinade.

Preheat oven to 375F. Place a rimmed baking sheet with a wire rack on the middle shelf. Bake the chicken on the wire rack until cooked through 20 – 25 minutes. Cover loosely and let stand for 5 – 10 minutes before serving.

In a large heavy skillet over medium heat add 1 tablespoon and cook garlic for 30 seconds. Add all of the spinach and cook until wilted but not soggy. Sprinkle the feta over the spinach.

To serve, spoon a portion of the spinach-feta on a plate and top with a sliced chicken breast. Drizzle with olive oil, top with olives, and re-season with salt and pepper.

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White Bean Soup with Chile Oil

White Bean Soup with Chile Oil is a pleasant riff on a basic white bean soup. The Chile Oil, which is very easy to make, punches up the flavor of the dish.


White Bean Soup with Chive Oil
(Adapted from recipe courtesy of Epicurious, November 2012)

Makes 6 servings

2 cups dried Great Northern beans, rinsed and picked over
3 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 cup chopped leeks (white and pale green parts only)
1 large tomato, halved, seeded, and chopped
½ cup chopped carrots (about 2 medium)
½ cup chopped celery (about 2 medium)
8 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
11 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 Tbsp chopped fresh thyme
1 Tbsp chopped fresh rosemary
½ cup half-and-half
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Chive Oil for drizzling (see recipe below)

Put the beans in a large pot, add enough water to cover the beans by 2 inches and let soak overnight. Drain.

Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion, leeks, tomato, carrots, celery, and garlic and sauté until tender, about 6 minutes. Add the beans, chicken stock, thyme, and rosemary and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium low, cover, and simmer stirring occasionally, until the beans are very tender, about 1 hour.

With an immersion blender, puree the soup until smooth. Return the soup to the pot and add half-and-half. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Spoon into bowls and top with grated parmesan cheese and a drizzle of Chive Oil.

Chive Oil

1 bunch fresh chives
½ cup canola oil
1/8 tsp sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Blanch and ice bath the chives. Drain the chives and wrap them in a paper towel. Squeeze out excess water.

Put chives in a blender or food processor with the remaining ingredients and blend for 2 minutes. Strain through a fine mesh sieve Transfer oil to a plastic squeeze bottle.

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Spicy Shrimp St. Louis

Spicy Shrimp St. Louis is similar to a jambalaya when served over rice. The piquant gravy soaks into long-grain rice and creates a savory, warm dish to serve on cold Midwest winter night. The keys to the dish are seasoning the shrimp with a generous dose of Creole seasoning and the combination of the other spices in the dish. Before serving, make sure to taste the broth and re-season with additional spices, as needed.

Spicy Shrimp St. Louis
(Recipe courtesy of Dale Pillow via Louisiana Cookin magazine)

Serves 4

2 pounds large Gulf shrimp, peeled and deveined
9 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 Tbsp Creole seasoning
2 sticks unsalted butter
½ tsp red pepper flakes
¼ tsp dried oregano
¼ tsp dried basil
¼ tsp thyme
1/8 tsp dried rosemary
1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
6 green onions, finely sliced
1 green bell pepper, julienned
1 red bell pepper, julienned
1 (15 oz) can diced tomatoes
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
zest and juice of 1 lemon
1 Tbsp minced garlic
1 ½ cups medium picante sauce
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Hot cooked long grain rice, for serving
Flat-leaf parsley, for garnish

Preheat oven to 350F. Combine shrimp, 1 tablespoon olive oil, and Creole seasoning in a large bowl, and chill.

Melt butter in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add red pepper flakes and next 13 ingredients and adjust heat to low. Mix well to make sure all ingredients are incorporated into sauce. Taste and adjust seasoning, if needed.

Cover Dutch oven and bake at 350F for 1 hour. Add picante sauce and reserved shrimp, mixing thoroughly. Lower oven temperature to 300F and cook until shrimp are opaque, 15 to 20 minutes.

Serve with rice topped with shrimp and sauce. Add fresh parsley for a garnish.

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Roasted Acorn Squash with Chile Vinaigrette

Roasted Acorn Squash with Chile Vinaigrette is a great side dish for the holidays. The spicy chili vinaigrette dressing makes the dish versatile enough to serve with traditional holiday entrees such as roast beef, ham and roasted poultry or to accompany Spanish or Italian fare.

Roasted Acorn Squash with Chile Vinaigrette
(Adapted from recipe courtesy of Epicurious, 2012)

Serves 4 – 6

2 (1 ½ pound) acorn squash
½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp Kosher salt
6 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 garlic clove
1 ½ Tbsp fresh lime juice
1 – 2 tsp finely chopped or ground dried hot red chile, including seeds
2 Tbsp chopped fresh cilantro

Put the oven racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and preheat the oven to 450F.

Halve the squash lengthwise, then cut off and discard the stem ends. Scoop out the seeds and cut the squash lengthwise into ¾-in-wide wedges. Toss with the pepper, salt and 2 tablespoons of oil in a bowl. Arrange cut side down in 2 large shallow baking pans.

Roast the squash, switching position of the pans halfway through roasting, until tender and undersides of wedges are golden brown, 25 to 35 minutes.

While squash roasts, mince the garlic and mash to a paste with ¼ teaspoon salt. Transfer the paste to a small bowl and whisk in the lime juice, chile to taste, cilantro and ¼ cup oil until combined.

Transfer the squash, browned sides up, to a platter and drizzle with the vinaigrette.

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Goat Cheese and Garlic Pizza

Ample Bites had yet another request for a twist on pizza. This time for Friday Pizza Night we did Goat Cheese and Garlic Pizza which was amazing. The garlic is subtle and the caraway and tarragon are a different taste sensation. Give it a try!

Goat Cheese and Garlic Pizza
(Mark Kelly, 2012)

Serves 4

1 pizza dough, divided into equal crusts
Extra-virgin olive oil
2 yellow peppers, seeded and sliced
2 red peppers, seeded and sliced
16 large garlic cloves, peeled, sliced horizontally
6 ounces plain goat cheese, crumbled
½ tsp tarragon
½ tsp caraway seeds

Prepare pasta dough and divide the dough into four equal crusts. Preheat oven to 425F. Preheat pizza stone for about 20 minutes.

Saute garlic and peppers in one tablespoon of oil until soft, stirring occasionally, until soft and the peppers are just beginning to brown, about 4 minutes.

Cover each crust with the vegetables, goat cheese and spices leaving a ½” rim. Brush the rim of each pizza with olive oil.

Bake each pizza for about 10-15 minutes or until the cheese is melted and crust is golden. Before serving, drizzle with oil and cut into wedges.

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Spicy Turkey-Tortilla Soup

Ample Bites froze some of the leftover Thanksgiving turkey to use in a soup. Spicy Turkey-Tortilla Soup uses Mexican flavors to produce a light soup that goes beyond the normal Turkey Noodle variations.

This soup incorporates a dash of unsweetened cocoa powder to impart a slight mole flavor. The soup is finished with baked tortilla strips and scallions, jalapenos, avocado and lime wedges.

Spicy Turkey-Tortilla Soup
(Mark Kelly, 2012)

Serves 6

2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 large red onion, finely chopped
2 large carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
¼ cup roughly chopped cilantro stems, plus ½ cup cilantro leaves for garnish
2 garlic cloves, smashed
2 1/4 tsp ground coriander, divided
2 1/4 tsp ground cumin, divided
2 1/4 tsp dried oregano, divided
2 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
2 ¼ tsp kosher salt, divided
10 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
2 6-inch corn tortillas
Non-stick cooking spray
3 cups cooked, shredded turkey breast
2 scallions, white and light green parts only, thinly sliced
1 jalapeno, thinly sliced into rings
½ avocado, peeled and chopped into small pieces
1 lime, cut into wedges

Preheat oven to 375F. In a large pot over medium heat add oil and heat 1 minute. Add the onion and carrot and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender and soft, about 10 minutes. Stir in the cilantro stems, garlic, 1 teaspoon ground coriander, 1 teaspoon ground cumin, 1 teaspoon dried oregano, 1 tablespoon cocoa powder and 2 teaspoons salt. Cook until the garlic is fragrant, about 1 minute, then pour in the chicken broth and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and gently simmer for 20 minutes. Re-season with 1 teaspoon ground coriander, 1 teaspoon ground cumin, 1 teaspoon dried oregano, and 1 tablespoon cocoa powder.

While the soup is simmering, make tortilla strips. In a small bowl, combine the remaining coriander, cumin, oregano, ¼ teaspoon salt and cayenne pepper. Place the tortilla on a cutting board and lightly coat each side with cooking spray. Sprinkle both sides of the tortillas with the spice mixture, then slice into 1/8-to1/4-inch-thick strips. Place the strips on a rimmed baking sheet and bake in the oven until crisp, stirring midway through, for about 8 to 10 minutes.

Strain the broth into a bowl, discard the solids and return the broth to the pot. Add the shredded turkey and cook over medium heat until the turkey is warmed through, 5 to 8 minutes. Divide the soup between bowls and add some scallion, jalapeno, avocado, cilantro leaves and tortilla strips to each bowl. Serve with a lime wedge.

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Mushroom and Manchego Paninis

Paninis are just fancy grilled cheese sandwiches. The Mushroom and Manchego Panini is an excellent version of this sandwich. Ample Bites made them using shiitakes and button mushrooms. The sherry vinegar and fresh thyme in the mushroom mixture gives the sandwich nice punch. I had a few mushrooms leftover. They will make an appearance on our pizzas this week.

If you don’t have a panini press you can simply use a heavy skillet and place a dish with a little weight to it on top of the sandwich to press it. You will have to flip the sandwich halfway through cooking.

Mushroom and Manchego Panini
(Adapted from recipe courtesy of Cooking Light Magazine, March 2012)

Serves 4

1 tsp unsalted butter
¼ cup minced shallots
1 Tbsp chopped fresh thyme
2 tsp minced fresh garlic
Freshly ground black pepper
Kosher salt
8 ounces sliced exotic mushrooms (shiitake, cremini and/or oyster)
8 ounces sliced button mushrooms
1 ½ Tbsp sherry vinegar
8 slices of sourdough or multi-grain bread
3 ounces shaved Manchego cheese
Cooking spray
1 garlic clove, halved

Melt butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat; add shallots, thyme, minced garlic and mushrooms. Season with salt and pepper. Cook 10 minutes or until mushrooms are tender and liquid almost evaporates, stirring frequently. Add vinegar; cook 30 seconds or until liquid almost evaporates.

Divide the mushroom mixture evenly among four bread slices. Top evenly with cheese and remaining bread slices.

Heat a Panini press. Coat the press with cooking spray. One at a time add sandwiches to the press and close, pressing down slightly to flatten. Cook sandwiches 3 minutes or until the cheese melts and bread is toasted.

Rub the top and bottom of each sandwich with cut side of garlic clove and serve immediately.

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Prosciutto-Wrapped Salmon with Mushroom-Pea Risotto

Ample Bites enjoys salmon prepared almost any way and any variation on risotto. Prosciutto-Wrapped Salmon with Mushroom-Pea Risotto is luxurious combination of the two elements.

Prosciutto-Wrapped Salmon with Mushroom Risotto and Garden Peas
(Mark Kelly, 2012)

Serves 4

2 Tbsp unsalted butter
½ white onion, finely diced
1 cup Arborio rice
1/2 cup Chardonnay
4 cups hot chicken broth
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
8 slices prosciutto
4 (7-ounce) wild salmon fillets
Extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup peas, divided
1 tsp fesh thyme leaves
½ tsp chopped garlic
1 tsp minced shallot
12 fresh shiitake mushrooms, sliced
8 chanterelles, morels or other fresh mushrooms, sliced
12 grape tomatoes

Preheat oven to 400F.

Heat a heavy Dutch oven over medium heat. Add 1 tablespoon butter, then onion and sweat. Next add rice. Stir rice around with the butter and onions to coat the rice. Deglaze with Chardonnay and stir using a wooden or spatula. Add enough hot broth to cover the rice. Continue to stir, over low to medium heat, until the broth is absorbed. Add broth two more times while continuing to stir. Season with salt and pepper.

While risotto is cooking, lay 2 slices of prosciutto flat, then wrap around each piece of salmon. In a hot skillet, add a tablespoon of olive oil. Sear the prosciutto-wrapped fish on all sides. Transfer the fish to the oven and cook for about 5 minutes more, or until the fish is cooked through.

In a blender, add ¾ cup peas with garlic, shallot and ¾ cup broth; puree. Season with salt and pepper. Strain through a mesh strainer.

In a small hot skillet, add a teaspoon of oil. Add the mushrooms, and thyme and sauté. Fold the mushrooms and peas into the risotto and finish the risotto with 3 to 4 tablespoons of butter.

Saute the pureed English peas and baby tomatoes. Ladle peas and tomatoes on plate. Top with mushroom risotto. Place salmon on the risotto and serve immediately.

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Brined and Roasted Fresh Turkey

Ample Bites has no new recipe for tonight so I am posting my Brined and Roasted Fresh Turkey recipe for a Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner. And, sorry, no picture, but I am quite sure you have seen a roasted turkey before.

Brined and Roasted Fresh Turkey
(Mark Kelly, 2012)

Serves 8 – 10

1 12 – 14 pound fresh turkey

For Brine
2 quarts of cold apple juice
1 cup Kosher salt
2 Tbsp dried sage
2 Tbsp dried thyme
2 Tbsp dried rosemary
2 Tbsp freshly ground black pepper

For Roasting
1 ½ Tbsp freshly ground black pepper
6 Tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature
1 Tbsp finely grated lemon zest
1 Tbsp minced fresh rosemary
1 Tbsp minced fresh sage leaves
1 Tbsp minced fresh thyme leaves
1 medium onion, quartered
1 orange, quartered
1 lemon, quartered

Thaw turkey, if frozen, and remove neck and giblets. Mix brine by pouring salt and spices into the apple juice until salt is completely dissolved. Place turkey in plastic brining bag and pour brine in. Pull the bag tight and tie it closed. Place the turkey in a cooler with a bag or two of ice for 24 hours.

Remove the turkey from the brine after 24 hours and rinse it with cold water. Pat the turkey dry, inside and out, and leave uncovered at room temperature for about one hour before seasoning.

Preheat oven to 450F.

Rub the turkey inside and out with black pepper. Place the turkey in a rack in a roasting pan. Mix butter, lemon zest, rosemary, sage and thyme in a small bowl. Rub herb butter over the top of the turkey and inside cavity.

Place onion, orange, and lemon inside turkey cavity. Foil the tips of the wings to keep them from burning. Pour 4 cups water into pan. Roast turkey, uncovered, for 30 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 325F. Baste turkey with pan juices; add more water, if needed, to maintain at least ¼-inch of liquid in the bottom of the roasting pan. Continue roasting turkey, basting every 30 minutes and tenting with foil if skin is turning too dark, until instant-read thermometer inserted into thickest part of the thigh without touching bone registers 165F (juices should run clear when thermometer is removed), about 2 ¾ hours total.

Transfer turkey to a platter. Tent with foil and let rest for 1 hour before carving.

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